Others may fashion more smoothly images of bronze, evoke
living faces from marble, plead causes better, trace the
wanderings of the heavens and foretell the rising of stars.
But you, Roman, your arts will be these: to teach
the ways of peace to those you conquer, to spare
the vanquished and tame the proud!
--Vergil’s Aeneid Book VI, 847-853.
In the Aeneid, the Romans traced their heritage
back to the great Trojan hero Aeneas, son of the
• The Trojans fought a war with the Greeks for
ten years. Eventually, the Greeks devised a trick
to destroy the city of Troy.
Aeneas, prince of Troy, fled the city and
experienced a series of adventures on his way to
Italy, including an affair with Dido, queen of
Eventually, Aeneas arrived in Italy, married
Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, settled in
Latium and founded the city of Lavinium.
When he became an adult, Aeneas’s son Ascanius
left Lavinium and founded a new city Alba Longa.
After 11 generations, Aeneas’s descendant Numitor
ruled Alba Longa.
• Numitor’s brother Amulius overthrew him and
forced Numitor’s daughter Rhea Silvia to
become a Vestal Virgin.
Rhea Sylvia then had an “encounter” with Mars,
the god of war, and gave birth to twins, Romulus
• They were left by the river where a wolf nursed
them. A shepherd found them and raised them.
The twins overthrew Amulius and put Numitor
back on the throne.
• Romulus and Remus then
decided to found their own
• While building the wall of
the city, Remus jumped over
Romulus’ section of wall
laughing at how low it was.
• Romulus killed his brother
and continued to build his
city, which was called Rome
Rome did not have any people, so Romulus made
the city a refuge for criminals and murderers.
Romulus soon had a number of men in his new
city, but no women.
Romulus invited a neighboring tribe called the Sabines
to feast with the Roman men.
• During the feast,
Romulus and the
Roman men stole all of
the Sabine women.
• The Sabine women
“married” the Roman
men and had children.
• The two tribes merged
and Romulus ruled
jointly with the Sabine
King Titus Tatius.
Rome expanded from a small village to a small
city, and encompassed seven hills.
• Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine were most
• The Tiber River flowed by the city.
From 753-509 B.C., Rome’s expanding population
was governed by a series of seven kings.
• Romulus (753-716 B.C.)
• Numa Pompilius (715-674 B.C.)
• Tullius Hostilius (673-642 B.C.)
• Ancus Marcius (641-617 B.C.)
• Tarquin Dynasty (Etruscan Origin)
– Tarquinius Priscus (616-579
– Servius Tullius (578-535 B.C.)
– Tarquinius Superbus (534-509
The last of the Rome’s Etruscan kings, Tarquinius
Superbus, had a son, Sextus Tarquinius.
• Sextus Tarquinius
became attracted to
his friend’s wife,
Lucretia, who was a
very virtuous woman.
• One night Sextus
rather than endure
the shame, Lucretia
killed herself (510
This event angered the Roman people.
• The Romans needed a
hero who would save
them from the Superbus
family; they were led by
a man named Brutus.
• Brutus and the rest of
the Roman people
chased Tarquins out of
• Romans changed their
government from a
monarchy to a republic
in 509 BC.
While Rome’ Republic was being established,
enemies gathered. The Tarquins gained the
support of other Etruscan warlords and attempted
to regain control of Rome.
• Lars Porsena of Clusium gathered an army in
support of the Tarquins.
According to most Roman
accounts, Lars Porsena
arrived at Rome, but was
sufficiently impressed by
Roman Courage: Horatius Cocles
• By holding the bridge on the Tiber until it could
be destroyed, Horatius Cocles, Spurius Lartius,
and Titus Herminius saved Rome from the
attack of Lars Porsena’s Etruscan army.
Roman Courage: Mucius Scaevola (the Lefthanded)
"I am Gaius Mucius, a
citizen of Rome. I came here
as an enemy to kill my
enemy, and I am as ready to
die as I am to kill. We
Romans act bravely and,
when adversity strikes, we
suffer bravely. I am one of
three hundred other
Romans willing to give their
own life to kill Porsenna.”
Cincinnatus was another great Roman hero.
• Cincinnatus was a patrician
who lived in humble
circumstances until an
invasion caused him to be
called to serve Rome as
dictator (absolute authority
for 6 months), an office
which he immediately
resigned after completing
his task of defeating the
The Roman res publica was a form of government
that is a mixture of class-system (Patricians = noble
Roman families & Plebeians = non-nobles) and
• S.P.Q.R. Senatus Populusque Romanus = “the
Senate and People of Rome.”
• The idea of cooperation between patricians
(Senators) and plebs (People) was an important
part of Roman identity throughout the
Republican period (509 to 27 BC).
• The res publica allowed the common people to
participate, but the wealthy to dominate.
Structure of Roman Republic
Consuls= 2 executives
elected to one-year terms.
-----------------Senate (legislature made up of
------------------------------Patricians (wealthy aristocrats
who had most of the power
in Roman society)
----------------------------------------------------------Plebeians (citizens, workers, small farmers)
494-287 BC: The Political Struggle Between
Patricians and Plebs
• Roman plebeians (farmers/workers) resented
their lack of power and refused to serve in the
army until they received a voice in government.
• The patricians allowed the plebeians to create the
Assembly of Tribes and wrote a law code (the
Twelve Tables) that was the same for all.
• The office of 10 Tribunes of the Plebs was
– Had the power of veto (“I forbid”) over
decrees made by any official (even consuls)
Important Political Offices
• Consuls (2) executives
elected annually; had
power of imperium:
could command army,
make laws, and
assemble the senate.
• Senate (300 retired
Assembly; power to
ANALYSIS OF ROMAN CENTURIATE ORGANISATION
(drachmae: denarii after
No. of votes
in electoral assembly
10,000 - 25,000?
7,500 - 10,000
5,000 - 7,500
2,500 - 5,000
400 (or 1,100) - 2,500
Proletarii (a.k.a. capite
Under 400 (or 1,100)
Cursus Honorum—Ladder of Offices
Power to veto
In the early centuries of the Roman Republic…
• Roman army was
Greek city-states of
• This was most
suitable for a “parttime” citizen army.
• Weapons and
Etruscan or Greek
imitations, and most
battles were fought
using the Greek
In 390 BC, a Celtic invasion resulted in the burning
Vae victis, Roman punks!!!
The Roman phalanx was easily outflanked by fastmoving Celts…Rome was sacked!
After the Romans recovered, they developed the
legion, a flexible unit of 4500 citizens. It was made
up of three age groups (maniples) deployed in
• This allowed the different lines to fall back
without disrupting the entire formation.
• Each consul would be assigned two legions and
given operational control of Republic’s areas.
Roman Triplex Acies Formation
The effectiveness of the legion allowed Rome to
…until most of central Italy was under its
Aqueducts were built to guarantee Rome’s water
Step 1: Locate a suitable source of water and begin
carving an angled trench from the source to the
route into the city.
Every 20 yards shafts were dug from the surface to
the route of the aqueduct.
The finished aqueduct would run across the terrain
at a slight incline that allowed the water to flow
slowly to its destination.
• The Romans were polytheistic (worshipped many
gods), and borrowed Greek deities, giving them
Unit II: The Punic Wars (264-241, 218-202, 149146)
Rome vs. Carthage
From 400-270 BC, Rome gradually expanded…
…until most of Italy was under its control
From 338-264 BC, Rome developed a framework
for integrating the tribes and city-states of Italy
into a broad confederation.
• When a tribe was defeated, part of its territory
would be annexed by Rome to provide land for
Roman/Latin colonists, which would act as
"watchdogs,“ keeping an eye on defeated foes.
• The defeated tribe was allowed to keep the rest of
its territory in return for binding itself to Rome
with military alliance, requiring the new ally to
contribute a number of fully equipped troops
each year, to serve under Roman command.
Structure of Rome’s Italian Confederation
Roman Citizens (citizens of Rome and Latium;
full rights and privileges)
-----------------Latin Colonists (scattered throughout Italy;
could vote in Roman elections)
Socii (conquered Italians; no rights of citizenship;
must supply troops to Rome every year)
The Romans created a very effective road network
to tie together their expanding empire in Italy.
To further consolidate its power, Rome moved
against the Greek city-states of southern Italy.
• In 280 the Greek cities in Italy recruited King
Pyrrhus of Epirus, a famous Hellenistic
commander skilled in phalanx warfare.
• The Roman army relied on its legion formation,
which was capable of flexible open order
Although Pyrrhus “won” 2 out of 3 battles against
the Romans, but lost so many of his men (winning
"Pyrrhic victories") he was forced to leave Italy.
Each legionnaire was equipped with the following:
• Scutum: wood
brass rim and
Pilum: javelin with bendable head.
Gladius: short (24 inches), stabbing sword.
• By 264 B.C. Rome
and was ready to
expand beyond the
• Rome’s expansion
brought Rome into
conflict with the
• Colony of
founded in 814
• By 570 BC it
Carthage was more oligarchy than republic…
• It’s senate was
dominated by a
• Carthage relied on
its navy to project
power in the
• Carthage did not
rely on citizens. It
to defend its
What caused the First Punic War?
Rome and Carthage fought to control Sicily.
The First Punic War (264-241 B.C.)
• War focused on Sicily.
• Mostly naval battles.
• Rome lost 19% of its citizens in the war.
Romans create corvus,
a device which
interlocks two battling
Carthage then suffered a series of naval defeats.
• In 242, Carthage sued for peace on Roman
terms, retreated from Sicily, and agreed to pay
reparations for 10 years.
• In 238 B.C., Carthaginian general Hamilcar
Barca and his son Hannibal travel to the shrine
of Melkart and swear eternal hatred for Rome…
The Second Punic War (218-202 B.C.)
The war I am
about to describe is
of any that have
ever been waged.
After the First Punic War, Carthage expanded into
Spain to gain control of its mineral resources.
The Romans saw the growing Carthaginian
influence in Spain as a threat.
• They signed a treaty (226 BC) in which Carthage
agreed not to cross the Ebro River.
As the power of Carthage grew in Spain, Rome
looked for a way to block their enemy.
• Rome decided to make
alliance with Saguntum
(222 BC), a city south of
• The Romans warn
Carthage’s commander in
Spain, Hannibal Barca, to
stay away from Saguntum.
• Hannibal ignored the
warning and attacked
Saguntum, capturing it
after siege of 8 months.
This action provokes the Second Punic War. Rome
sends a delegation to Carthage with an ultimatum:
Fabius: Here we bring you
peace and war. Take which you
Whichever you please—we do
Fabius: We give you war!
Carthaginian Senate: We accept
it; and in the same spirit we will
fight it to the end!
From Saguntum, Hannibal marched across the
Pyrenees and Alps with 40,000 infantry, 9,000
cavalry and 34 African war elephants.
He reached Italy with 20,000 infantry, 6,000
cavalry, and a few elephants.
Roman army under consul Scipio Sr. sent to halt
Hannibal. Hannibal & Scipio Sr. fight at Ticinus
River. Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry attack Roman
flanks; Roman line collapses. Hannibal victorious,
recruits 30K Gauls.
Roman Senate orders consul Longus, now in Sicily,
to halt invasion of Africa, march to northern
Italy, and attack Hannibal.
Longus rushes north and arrives at the Trebia
River. Hannibal fakes an attack; Longus orders
his men to skip breakfast, cross the river and
attack Hannibal. Carthaginian cavalry rout
Roman cavalry then hammers Roman flanks.
Romans turn and flee…10K Romans KIA…
June 217 BC: Hannibal marches south towards
Rome; ambushes Roman army at Lake Trasimene,
killing 30,000 Romans.
Hannibal’s plan was to win enough victories to
convince Rome’s Italian allies to break away.
After disaster at Lake Trasimine Roman senate
appoints Fabius Maximus as dictator.
Fabius followed the Carthaginian army through
Italy, monitoring their activities.
• He fortified threatened
cities, wore down the
enemy with guerilla
warfare and prevented
• This tactic provided his
nickname ‘the delayer.’
• Eventually the Romans
grew impatient with this
and elected 2 new
Rome then gathered an army of 80,000 infantry
and 7,000 cavalry.
• Hannibal had 40,000 infantry and 10,000
cavalry. The two forces met near Cannae on
August 2, 216 BC.
Carthaginian cavalry swiftly crushed the Roman
cavalry, but the Roman infantry began to force the
Hannibal signaled his wings to wheel inward while
the Carthaginian cavalry attacked the rear,
encircling the entire Roman army.
Over 50,000 Romans were killed.
Two more serious blows rocked Rome after
• Most of Rome’s southern Italian allies defected
• Hannibal made an alliance with Philip V of
Rome hung tough…
• Hannibal's received limited support from
Carthage’s senate. Few reinforcements sent.
• Fabius’s “delay” strategy is reinstituted. Action
shifts to Sicily and Spain.
Rome finds a general…
234: Scipio the Younger is born.
218-216: Survives Ticinus, Trebia, and Cannae.
212: Scipio's father and uncle killed in Spain.
210: Given command of legions in Spain at 25.
209: Captures New Carthage.
206: Defeats last Carthaginian army in Spain.
Tactics Used by Scipio in Spain
After being elected consul in 205, Scipio pushed for
an invasion of North Africa.
• Prior to landing in North Africa, Scipio had
made an alliance with Numidian King
• 203: Romans and Masinissa’s Numidians burn
Carthaginian camp at Utica killing 40,000.
• 202: Carthaginian Senate recalls Hannibal.
• Battle of Zama: Carthaginians squeezed between
Roman infantry and Numidian cavalry.
Reasons for Roman Victory
• Capable leaders: Fabius Maximus/Scipio
• Greater Roman man-power.
• Loyalty of the Italian allies in central Italy.
• Failure of the Carthaginians to send
reinforcements to Hannibal.
• Peace settlement: Carthage lost Spain, had to pay
10,000 talents of gold (1 talent = 71 lbs.); navy
limited to 10 ships, and she was forbidden from
raising an army or waging war without Rome's
Rome next targeted Macedonian king Philip V,
who had allied himself with Carthage in 215.
The Romans defeated Philip’s Macedonian
phalanx at Cynocephalae.
When Philip V died in 179 BC, he was succeeded
by Perseus, who tried to turn the Greeks against
• The Romans destroyed the Macedonians at
Pydna (168 BC).
• In 146 BC, Macedon officially became a Roman
Culturally, the impact of Rome’s conquests of the
Greek world was enormous.
• Scipio Aemilianus (185/4-129) (grandson of
Scipio Africanus and the destroyer of Carthage)
gathered together a group of Greeks, including
Polybius (historian) and Panaetius (a Stoic
philosopher) and formed what became known as
the Scipionic Circle.
• Roman stoics will follow a philosophy of duty:
one must recognize the role that fortune assigns,
and then must fulfill that role by taking up a
particular career and never fail in carrying out
the duties of that position.
After the Second Punic War, Carthage
became a minor commercial power, but still
the source of hatred for a faction of Roman
senators led by…
Cato the Elder…
Who ended every
speech with the
Carthago delenda est!
Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.)
• The Third Punic War lasted three years, after
which Carthage was utterly destroyed.
• Rome was now master of the Mediterranean
The Romans were suspicious of the other
Hellenistic kings, particularly the Seleucid King
Antiochus III, who employed Hannibal as a
• The Romans destroyed his army at the
battle of Magnesia (189 BC).
Unit III: The Decline and Fall of the Roman
Rome’s conquests of the second century BC
flooded Roman society with wealth and slaves.
Territorially, Romans began to refer to the
Mediterranean Sea as “Mare Nostrum,” or “Our
Roman soldier (200-178 BC) Spurius Ligustinus:
• “I was a common soldier in the army, fighting against Philip in
Macedonia… After Philip and the Macedonians were
vanquished…I at once volunteered to go with the consul M.
Porcius to Spain…I served, for the third time, as a volunteer in
the army which was sent against Antiochus and the Aetolians…
After Antiochus, I served in Spain, once under Q. Fulvius Flaccus
and again under Ti. Sempronius Gracchus.”
The Triumph of Gn. Manlius Vulso (187 BC)…
• In his triumph Cn. Manlius had borne before him 200 golden crowns,
each weighing 12 pounds, 220,000 pounds weight of silver, 2103 pounds
of gold, 127,000 Attic tetrachmas, 250 cistophori, 16,320 golden coins of
Philip's mintage…He distributed amongst the soldiers 42 denarii for
each legionary, twice as much for the centurions, and three times as
much for the cavalry, and double pay for all.
• Still worse things were witnessed amongst his soldiers every day' for it
was through the army serving in Asia that the beginnings of foreign
luxury were introduced into the City…
• These men brought into Rome for the first time, bronze couches, costly
coverlets, tapestry, and other fabrics, and - what was at that time
considered gorgeous furniture - pedestal tables and silver salvers.
• Banquets were made more attractive by the presence of girls who
played on the harp and sang and danced, and by other forms of
amusement, and the banquets themselves began to be prepared with
greater care and expense.
The cook whom the ancients regarded and treated as the lowest menial was
rising in value, and what had been a servile office came to be looked upon as a
fine art. Still what met the eye in those days was hardly the germ of the luxury
that was coming.
Economically, wealth and slaves transformed the
Roman economy…and Roman society.
• In Italy, wealthy
land in Italy from
• These patricians
created large estates
farmed by slaves.
• Many plebs lost
133-121 BC: The Gracchus brothers used the office
of tribune to force the senate to focus on
redistributing land to plebeians.
Because of their land reform policies both
Gracchus brothers were killed by order of the
Senate (Senatus consultum ultimum).
Lack of land reform led to waves of unemployed
farmers heading to Rome to find new opportunity.
They soon became an unemployed mob.
The economic crisis had a military effect— landless
men could not serve in the legions.
• The lack of troops became an issue during the
Jugurthine War (111-104 BC, Rome vs.
Jugurtha, king of Numidia).
Matters became worse when Rome faced a deadly
challenge from the north.
• Two Germanic tribes (Teutones and Cimbri)
began to threaten Roman trans-Alpine interests.
The Roman senate appointed commanders to deal
with both crises, but their appointees failed
• The people demanded action, and
elected the general Gaius Marius
• To increase Rome’s military
effectiveness, Marius waived
property requirements for
• Unlike part-time citizen soldiers,
Marius’s recruits were paid, given
uniforms and equipment, and
promised land when they were
These newly-enlisted soldiers became dependent on
their generals for financial security.
• Soldiers began to show
more loyalty to their
commanders than the
• Rival political leaders
sought the position of
consul so they could be
conquer new lands,
and pay their soldiers
Soon, rival factions formed into something like
• Gaius Marius, was a novus homo
(new man; non-patrician consul),
represented the populare faction
(pro-plebeian, wanted to bypass
senate and use tribunes to introduce
• Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a patrician,
represented the optimate faction
(senators who wanted senate and
patricians to be dominant).
Marius and Sulla served together in the North
African war against Jugurtha (Massinissa’s
When Marius took sole credit for the Jugurthan
victory, Sulla became very bitter.
Sulla had been an effective commander against
Jugurtha and during the Social War (90-87), in
which Rome fought against its Italian socii.
Sulla was given command of the war against
Mithridates of Pontus in 88.
This command was overturned by a tribune, who
gave the command to Marius.
Sulla attacked Rome with his loyal legions, and
ordered the death of Marius’s supporters. Marius
fled to Africa.
• Sulla went back to
Asia to continue the
• While Sulla was
Marius and his
supporters returned to
Rome and terrorized
In 84 BC, Sulla returned to Rome, crushed the
populares, and appointed himself dictator.
• He then posted
proscription lists of
he wanted dead.
• Sulla greatly
optimate control of
Further adding to the tense political situation in
Rome and Italy were periodic slave revolts.
• By the 1st century B.C., roughly 20-30% of the
people in Italy were slaves.
• There were 2 major slave revolts in Sicily
between 135-100 B.C.
The most serious slave revolt occurred in Italy
from 73-71 B.C.; it was led by Spartacus (a slave
and a gladiator).
along the Appian
In the late 60s BC, Marius’s nephew, Gaius Julius
Caesar began to make a name for himself as a
rising populare star.
Also in the 60s, Gnaeus Pompey became Rome’s
Gabinia of 67 BC granted Pompey powers in
any province within 50 miles of the Mediterranean
Sea for three years.) His power was extended until
61 BC to defeat Mithradates.
60 BC: Caesar forms First Triumvirate with
Pompey and Crassus; they agree to help each other
attain the consulship.
a) Marcus Crassus (wealthiest man in Rome)
b) Pompey (Rome’s greatest general)
c) Caesar (excellent politician that plebeians love).
Caesar elected consul (59-58 BC); passed laws that
gave land back to plebs. Afterward, he was
assigned to govern the province of Gaul (tribune
Publius Vatinius passed law giving Caesar 5 year
Caesar commanded an army that was totally
devoted to HIM!!!
During this time he fought against most of the
Gallic tribes, the Germans (bridging the Rhine),
and even managed to launch an invasion of Britain.
In 52 BC, when Caesar thought he had pacified
Gaul, a Gallic chief named Vercingetorix launched
the most serious revolt Caesar had ever faced.
Caesar was able to contain the revolt by forcing the
rebels into the hill-top village of Alesia.
At Alesia Caesar conducted the greatest siege in
history. Romans kept 80,000 Gauls from breaking
out of Alesia, and prevented 200,000 Gauls from
Vercingetorix was forced to surrender to Caesar.
By 51 BC the triumvirate was falling apart.
Crassus was killed in Syria fighting Parthians (53
BC), and friendship between Pompey and Caesar
was on the rocks.
Pompey had married Caesar’s daughter Julia;
when she died in childbirth, the bond between the
two remaining triumvirs was gone.
Caesar’s successful military campaigns advanced
his political career, but caused suspicion among
optimate senators and earned the jealousy of
The optimates wanted to prosecute Caesar for
conducting an illegal war into Germania that the
Senate never authorized.
Cato the Elder
Caesar wanted immunity from prosecution; the
• Various political compromises were attempted,
but Caesar and the optimates could not reach an
• On December 1, 50 BC, the tribune Curio
proposed a motion that would force both Pompey
and Caesar to both lay down their commands,
and the motion was passed 370 votes to 22.
• The optimates then asked Pompey to take up
command of the local legions and to raise more
in defense of Rome against Caesar.
In 49 B.C., the Senate demanded Caesar give up
his army and return to Rome (where he would
probably be killed). Caesar refused, crossed the
Rubicon River with an army, and marched on
Alea iacta est!
In 48 BC, Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus (in
Greece); Pompey fled to Egypt so Caesar followed.
Caesar’s “4th Line”
The Civil War that followed (49-45 BC), saw
Caesar move rapidly to take the offensive.
49 BC: Caesar controls Italy: Pompey flees to
49-48: Caesar fights Pompey’s forces in Spain.
48: Caesar crushes Pompey at Pharsalus in
48-47: Caesar in Egypt (romance w/Cleopatra
produces son, Caesarion).
47 BC: Caesar vs. Pharnaces II (son of
Mithradates) at Zela (Veni, vedi, vici).
46 BC: Caesar vs. Cato (Thapsus, North Africa).
45 BC: Caesar vs. Pompey’s sons in Spain
In 46 BC Caesar returned to Rome to celebrate a
After winning the civil war, Caesar appointed
himself “dictator for life.”
He forgave his opponents. Several of them
(Cassius, Brutus) plotted against him.
Caesar was lured into the senate house and
assassinated in March, 44 B.C.
After Caesar’s assassination, a second triumvirate
is formed: Octavian (Caesar’s adopted son), Marc
Antony (Caesar’s loyal deputy), and Lepidus (a
supporter of Caesar).
This “second triumvirate” first defeated Caesar’s
assassins in 42 B.C. and then divided the Roman
world among themselves. Octavian took western
half of Roman empire, Antony too eastern half.
The second triumvirate soon fell apart, when
Antony fell in love with the Egyptian queen
• The two lovers were accused of plotting against
Rome. Octavian crushed them at the Battle of
Actium leaving him the undisputed ruler of
The defeat of Antony left Octavian as the sole ruler
• Octavian (Augustus) claimed to support the
republic but actually laid the foundation for the
return of monarchy and an epic expansion of
For most of his time in Gaul, Caesar could rely on
Pompey’s power to frustrate the plans of his
• 54 BC: Pompey’s wife (and Caesar’s daughter)
• 53 BC: Crassus killed fighting Parthians in the
• 52 BC: Caesar crushes Vercingetorix’s revolt.
• 51 BC: Optimates woo Pompey.
• 50: Curio is tribune.
• 49: Mark Anthony is tribune.
• 49-45 BC: Civil War
Octavian (Augustus) claimed to support the
republic but actually laid the foundation for the
de facto return of monarchy and an epic expansion
of Rome’s Empire.
The reign of Augustus inaugurated the principate
(in which Augustus and all emperors up to 284 AD
were granted absolute power by the senate).
Princeps = first
I’m number one!
How did the Roman emperors maintain their hold
• Bribe the army to guarantee its loyalty.
• Publicly show deference to the senate.
• Give powerful Romans important jobs as
governors of provinces.
The creation by Augustus of a Praetorian Guard
(emperor’s bodyguard) guaranteed that the
emperors had the military means of asserting their
Supply the people with food and entertainment
(bread and circuses).
Augustus led Rome’s imperial expansion
throughout the Mediterranean.
During the reign of Augustus (27 B.C. to 14) the
Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, began; it lasted 200
The Romans tied their empire together with an
unparalleled road network.
This led to unprecedented prosperity for many
people living within the borders of the empire.
During the reign of Augustus trouble began when
Rome began expanding from Gaul into Germany.
• Varus, Roman governor of Germania took three
legions (XVII, XVIII, XIX) to subdue the rebels
and is ambushed in Teutoburg forest. 15,000
Romans killed. Rome’s expansion into Germany
Augustus’s early successors—Tiberius, Caligula,
Claudius, and Nero—showed promise when
appointed but later revealed great faults.
Augustus (ruled 27 BC-14) established the JulioClaudian dynasty.
Tiberius (Augustus’s step-son) was effective, but
hated being emperor; he “retired” to Capri
where he became a debauched old man; ruled
Caligula, insane, was assassinated; ruled 37-41.
Claudius (Caligula’s uncle) was thought to be
physically and mentally challenged. Appointed
emperor by the Praetorian Guard. Conquers
Britain; poisoned by his wife (Nero’s mother)
Nero (Claudius’s stepson) was insane;
overthrown and commits suicide.
During Nero’s reign, Briton Queen Boudicca
revolted when Romans seized her territory seized.
• Boudicca’s army destroyed several Roman cities
(including London) and killed 70,000 Romans
until crushed by pro-consul Suetonius Paullinus.
The trouble in Britannia was followed by a great
fire in Rome which destroyed much of the city.
• Nero blamed the fire one a new religious group
called “Christians,” and ordered their
Some Romans thought that Nero had ordered the
fire set in order to clear an area where he wanted
to build a new palace, “the Golden House.”
• While his new palace was being built, Nero
ordered the building of an enormous statue of
himself (a “colossus.”)
Nero’s erratic behavior and extravagant lifestyle
financially strained the empire.
• In 68, Nero was forced to commit suicide. He was
the last of the Julio-Claudians.
• Nero’s death led to civil war in the “Year of Four
Emperors” (68/69) (Galba, Otho, Vitellius,
Vespasian). All 4 had been governors of
The civil wars of the year 68/69 are brought to an
end by Flavianus Vespasian, the tough governor of
the eastern provinces (Egypt, Syria, Judea).
• Vespasian established the Flavian dynasty, which
consisted of himself and his two sons (Titus and
In order to solidify political support for their new
dynasty, the Flavians (Vespasian, Titus, Domitian)
built a new amphitheater on the site of Nero’s
Golden House. It became known as the Colosseum.
Vespasian is successful emperor; dies of natural
causes. Titus is successful dies young of fever.
Domitian has long reign but is assassinated.
•Nerva adopts the
Nerva’s adoption of Trajan started a trend. Trajan
adopted Hadrian, who adopted Antoninus, who
adopted Marcus Aurelius.
During Trajan’s reign (98-117) the empire reached
its greatest extent; during the reign of Hadrian
(117-138) the Romans stopped expanding.
The Romans began to rely more on fortifications
like Hadrian’s Wall in Britannia and the limes,
which connected the Rhine-Danube frontier.
Hadrian’s decision to adopt Antoninus (138-161)
furthered the stability of the Roman empire.
With the death of Antoninus (138-161), Marcus
Aurelius and Lucius Verus became co-emperors.
Aurelius was a “reluctant” emperor. He was deeply
philosophical, adhering to the Stoic belief in duty.
His book, The Meditations, is considered one of the
greatest works of Stoic philosophy.
During the reign of Aurelius the empire faced
• After returning from a war with Parthia in the
east, the Roman army brought back plague.
• This greatly reduced the population of militaryaged manpower.
During the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Germanic
tribes aggressively penetrated the Rhine-Danube
The Germanic tribes originated in Scandinavia,
from which they moved south around 1000 BCE.
• By 100 BC some tribes reached the Rhine; by 200
AD the Danube.
In the early years of Pax Romana, the Germanic
tribes were not a real offensive danger to Rome:
• poverty ensured poor
armor and weapons
• they had limited
tactics, consisting of
ambushes and a mass
• divisions into
numerous small tribes
meant a lack of
Over time, the Germanic tribes became a more
aggressive threat to the Roman Empire:
Small tribes began to form
Southern Germans came
together into the
Middle Rhine groups
combined to form the
North Germans grouped
Eastern German tribes
formed into Ostrogoths
When “good” emperor Marcus Aurelius died in
180, Pax Romana ended and Rome began its
•Politically, the empire
suffered from the misrule
of bad emperors, starting
with Commodus, the son of
•The Germanic tribes grew
•Plague from the east also
hurt the empire.
From 192-285 the Romans suffered from political
instability, with 18 out of 24 emperors were
192-193 Didius Julianus
193 Didius Julianus
193-211 Septimius Severus (died natural causes)
211-217 Antoninus (Caracalla)
222-235 Severus Alexander
235-238 Maximinus Thrax
238 Gordian I & Gordian II
238-244 Gordian III
244-249 Philip the Arab
249-251 Decius (killed by Goths)
251-253 Trebonianus Gallus
253 Aemilius Aemilianus
253-260 Valerian (captured by Persian Sassanids; died in captivity)
268-270 Claudius Gothicus (plague)
In the period 192-285, the longest reigning emperor
was Septimius Severus (193-211).
• His policies had a long-term
impact on empire’s future:
• Promotion for provincials
(particularly in the army)
• Permission for soldiers to
• More pay for the army
• Contempt for senate
• Success against Parthians
leads to rise of Sassanid
In the 250s a grave threat appeared in the east:
The Sassanid Persian empire (224-651).
• Sassanid kings waged war to try to recreate the
borders of the ancient Persian empire. This
would require them to conquer the eastern
portion of the Roman empire.
Large parts of the Roman empire broke away,
creating sub-empires (the Gallic and Palmyran).
• By 260 it seemed as if the Roman empire would
Things began to turn around in 270, with the rise
of a series of soldier-emperors known collectively
as the Illyricani (emperors from Illyria).
• Claudius II
• Aurelian (270–275)
• Probus (276–282)
• Diocletian (284–305)
• Illyrian emperors
Emperor Diocletian (284-305) had stabilized the
empire by creating a tetrarchy: empire divided
into quadrants each controlled by a co-emperor.
To meet the external threats, Diocletian expanded
the army (from 25 to 50 legions); this required
enormous tax increases.
The religion of Christianity developed in Rome’s
Middle Eastern province of Judea.
A Jew named Jesus was born during the reign of
Augustus; during the reign of Tiberius he began
preaching a new faith.
Jesus’ disciples believed he was the messiah
(savior) but other Jews disputed this.
so Jesus was
crucified as a
rebel in 33.
After Jesus’ death his disciples proclaimed he had
risen from the dead; all who accepted Jesus as the
messiah became known as Christians.
• His disciples preached Jesus’
message: Love your enemies & do
not judge others.
• Christianity grew out of Judaism’s
monotheistic roots. The Bible
reflects the split that will occur after
the crucifixion of Jesus.
• Old Testament is part of Bible both
Jews & Christians feel is valid. Only
Christians view the New Testament
as a valid religious document.
Saul of Tarsus was a devout Jew who persecuted
the early followers of Jesus for breaking Jewish
• He changed his name to Paul after a revelation
convinced him of the truth of Jesus' divinity.
Spread of Christianity
• Paul spread Christianity by traveling throughout
the Roman empire during Pax Romana, setting
The Romans feared that Christian rejection of
their deities would bring divine punishment; when
local officials thought Christians were causing
trouble, they sometimes had them killed.
Persecutions backfired when martyrs like Perpetua
(in 203) showed serenity in the face of death.
Many Romans wanted to know more about this
powerful new religion.
In 312 Constantine ended the tetrarchy and
became sole emperor after defeating his rivals. He
converted to Christianity after his victory at the
In hoc signo vinces!
In 313, he issued Edict of Milan, allowing all
religious groups to worship freely.
Unit VI: Decline and Fall of Western Roman
By 330 Emperor Constantine relocated the capital
to Constantinople, on a peninsula where Europe
and Asia meet.
After 320, Emperor Constantine decided on new
imperial strategy: borders lightly defended;
“punching power” supplied by mobile cavalry
army stationed back from the borders.
Constantine also began to recruit more Germans
into the Roman army.
By the 370s, the empire was informally divided into
western and eastern halves.
In the 370s the Romans became aware of a new
potential threat from the northeast…
A migration of Asiatic nomads known as Huns, put
more pressure on Roman borders. Terrified of the
advancing Huns, the Visigoths asked to settle inside
The emperor Valens
was engaged in a
campaign against the
Sassanids and was
desperate for new
soldiers, so he granted
permission to settle if
they would serve in
the Roman army.
Roman mistreatment led to a Goth rampage inside
the province of Thrace. A Roman army, led by the
Emperor Valens destroyed at Adrianople.
The Romans opened the battle with an attack on
the Goth camp, but were flanked by Goth cavalry.
Emperor Valens and 2/3 of his army were killed.
After Adrianople, Goths are allowed to settle
within the empire and serve as foederati, army
units made up of Germans, commanded by their
own tribal chiefs.
In the year 395 the Roman empire was formally
divided into two halves: eastern (ruled by an
emperor in Constantinople) and western (ruled by
an emperor in Ravenna, Italy).
Each half of the empire tried to foist the Goths off
on the other half.
• In 410 the Goth King Alaric, frustrated by the
failure of the Romans to find a homeland for his
people, sacks the city of Rome.
By 450 AD the Visigoths had established
themselves in the Roman province of Gaul.
In 450 the Huns, led by their king Attila, invaded
the Western Roman Empire.
Roman general Flavius Aetius forms alliance with
Romans and Visigoths defeated Attila at Battle of
Chalons in 451.
The Western Empire limped along for another 25
years (476) before the last “emperor” was deposed
by a Germanic king and the western Roman
empire was divided amongst Germanic tribes.
•The Roman Empire
would continue in the
east for another 1,000
Causes for Decline of Western Roman Empire
• Bad emperors
• After an emperor died, Rome’s generals often
used their armies to gain power.
• Germanic tribes attacked the empire.
• In 395, Roman empire divided Western and
• The eastern provinces were much wealthier than
the western provinces and geographically better